258 9 UCFE OF unexpected kindness, witli a friendliness of which I might have "been proud had I not known that I owed it solely to your recommendation, I lived with him, "but without" your interposition he would hardly have taken sueli interest in a Berlin man, as I am5 with a friend of Engel, Herz. Biester, and so many anti- Jacobites. I am deeply grateful to you for the con- nexion,, for his society was highly interesting to me. He is a remarkable thinker, rich in new, great, and profound ideas, which he expresses in a spirited and eloquent manner ; his character seems to "be so noble that I cannot discriminate whether he has won my heart or my head/'"' This is the oldest letter of Humboldt's which we possess., and his subsequent letters to Forster show the same admiration for Jacobi's character and learn- ing, although he frequently combats his assertions in Ms correspondence with him. In a letter written to Forster about this time, he criticises an essay which Forster had written on English literature. He says ; "Essays on literature have their difficulties. If the supply of materials is scanty, they are meagre and unsatisfactory ; if it is great, as I think yours was, it is difficult to make a right selection, and the writer runs the risk of producing a mere catalogue of names. Therefore your essay seems to me to be masterly. It seems to run so smoothly in an artfully spun thread, and yet the reader cloe^ not anywhere detect the art which has been necessary to spin it. I was especially pleased by the manner in which you show the influ- ence of the British national spirit on the literature. A knowledge of the most modern authors of a country and of their writings, is certainly very interesting, but the reflecting reader desires rnore ; he will know why the authors in this country write in such a spirit and in no other, why certain "branches of literature flourish and others are neglected, And this, I think, you have shown excellently. The account of the reli- gious condition of England is written in a spirit in which I would like to see much more written."